Oh Hey There

Briefly checking in!

Frankie has been a total bro lately. We’ve been incorporating more pole work to encourage him to sit down and collect, and he’s been totally ROCKING it. We’ve struggled to pick ourselves up and not rush through these exercises in the past, so feeling him understand the question and then answer it so well has been fantastic. Our jokes that “there’s a fancy horse hiding in there somewhere” are becoming a little more true as we continue to develop.

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I haven’t gotten new media literally in months, so enjoy this picture that makes me giggle every time I look

We also did the circle of death in our lesson last week and he was a super good boy for that. Very adjustable, very “bouncy” in my hand, very obedient, very fun. That type of collection is obviously tough to do, but more and more he’s got the fitness to maintain power in a shorter stride. It sometimes takes me a jump or two to develop my feel for the canter we need, but seeing as it used to take me a full course or two to get in the game I’ll take the improvement.

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WUT IZ CANTER

We have our next show coming up on March 18th- we’re going back to McDonogh for the High Adults, and hopefully we’ll keep collecting points. We currently have 14 towards the 20 we need so we’re getting there! We’re starting to pencil in the rest of show season with a great variety of venues and classes too, so lots of fun outings on our horizon. I’ll update my sidebar with show dates once these firm up a little.

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Planning to do Loudoun Benefit again this year because PRETTY

This very brief update may have to tide you over for a bit- with an insanely busy schedule (I don’t have a free weekend until June on my calendar), something will likely have to give so that I can, you know, fit sleep in somewhere. I’d really like to sleep at some point.

I’ll plan on chiming in when I have time/energy to spare and maybe I’ll get around to sharing some stuff from my drafts folder. I certainly don’t plan on going radio-silent altogether. I love Blogland too much ❀

Frankie and I will check in with y’all soon!

3 Years of Manfriend

Non-horse related post!

Manfriend and I celebrated our 3 year anniversary this past weekend. Which is kinda crazy to type out- the only thing I’ve ever done for three years at a time before has been go to school. And I had summer vacations from that.

But honestly? He’s the coolest. An absolute lunatic weirdo, but the coolest.

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He paid real money for this photo

You know what he got me as an anniversary gift?

A grooming tote. With a scrubby mitt, other brushes, and fly spray in there. HE GOT ME FLY SPRAY FOR OUR ANNIVERSARY. GUYS. FLY SPRAY. He gets it, he really does.

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He’s also prettier than I am with his stupid face UGH

He has been so incredibly encouraging and supportive of the horse thing. Even though he’s allergic to Frankie and standing in the indoor makes him sneeze, he still comes out to the barn because he knows it’s my happy place.

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A stolen moment between sneezes

He’s now located two hours away from me due to work, so we really only get to see each other on the weekends. There has been more than one time where I’ve said, “I can’t drive down to see you, I have to be here so I can ride.” And without hesitating he has said, “No worries, I’ll drive up to you.”

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How do you make a 17.1h WB look small? Toss a big ol’ 6’3″ man up top.

I’ve apologized to him for not having any money for date nights, and he’s immediately started listing all the fun things we can do together for free. I’ve shown up at his place covered in sweat and muck and horse hair, and he still calls me beautiful. I’ve excitedly talked about all these different dreams I have that all involve NEVER HAVING MONEY EVER AGAIN, and he’s never paused in rooting me on as I chase these crazy pie-in-the-sky goals.

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He knows how to lean real cute

Of course he has infinite other good qualities than just “he doesn’t mind the crazy.” But I am so SO grateful that he’s cool with the crazy. He makes me laugh ’til I cry on the daily, eggs on my weird obsession with lizards, feeds me when I’m hangry, is a constant source of fresh clean drinking water, and recognizes the necessity of having a jacket with you at all times. He’s the best.

I actually really hate cheesy corny romantic gooey stuff (despite how this post may make it seem), so I gotta stop now and save the sap for Francis. I’ll have to balance this out by using finger guns instead of hugging him for a month or something obnoxious like that.

Here are some pictures of his stupid annoying face UGH HE’S THE WORST.

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Our 2nd Marine Corps Birthday Ball back in 2015
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STOP EMBARRASSING ME IN PUBLIC
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I told you he’s prettier than me WITH HIS STOOPID FACE
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Two days before I signed the check to buy Frankie. Poor guy had no idea what was in store.
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For someone who’s allergic to horses, he sure is willing to go to lots of horse-themed events (Gold Cup 2016)
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3rd MCBB!
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He’s also exceedingly valuable as a bartender
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Our first Christmas tree together! Manfriend wore that hat for a month. He LOVES Christmas.
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Getting out of the house/barn for a New Year’s hike
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Wine and cheese and selfies. Standard Saturday.
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Guaranteed looking at a dog here.
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Anniversary dinner date!

I’m thinking it’s time to coerce him into another blog post soon so he can chime back in with his lunatic thoughts. ‘Til then, we’re going to keep leaving each other voicemails of screeching for 7 minutes straight, sending each other dat boi memes, and generally doing weird stuff.

Who’s Your Trainer?

The timing on this works out great- Amanda was just talking about finding the right training program for her and Henny. With my own trainers gone to Ocala for a few weeks, I was ruminating on this myself.

First off, I LOVE being in a full training program. I lesson at least once a week- private lesson if it’s available- and will only cancel that lesson if I am too ill to breathe or something unavoidable gets in the way. My trainer is usually in the ring during most of my other rides during the week/on weekends, and will often give me pointers when she’s between lessons. We have her eyes on us pretty much non-stop.

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She’s out of frame but WATCHING

She’s also the property owner and barn manager where we board, so all of Frankie’s care is united there. She tracks his deworming, farrier schedule, vaccinations, feed, turnout, blanketing, training rides, lessons, hacks, trail rides, shows, EVERYTHING. She can give informed advice on preventative vet care because she knows every detail of his workload. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve texted her saying “Frankie threw a shoe” or “Frankie has a scrape” and gotten the response, “I know, already talked to the farrier and he’ll be out later today” or “Yes, we put some Corona on it this morning.” Caring for Frankie is so ridiculously simple: I have one single point of contact that handles everything.

All this is to say that my trainer is the integral core piece of Frankie’s life in every way and that I lean heavily on her for advice and guidance.

Which finally brings me around to the point I really want to talk about: having a trainer that I trust, with a training style that meshes with my learning style, is immensely important to me not only from the perspective of learning to to ride horses moar better, but also because I very much like this integrated-care approach.

I’ve talked quite a few times about how much I like my trainer’s teaching style- most notably here, where I talk about how hard on me my trainer is sometimes and why I LOVE it.

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Please tell me how to be less bad at things

However, I hadn’t ridden with anyone else in a very long time. I’ve been with my barn since I got back in the saddle as an adult, so the only two trainers I’ve been with have been Trainer and Assistant Trainer (who have very complementary styles). I did one clinic on Addy back in the day that I loved but that was about it. So I didn’t really know if I liked other trainers’ styles because I hadn’t actually ridden with other trainers.

Until recently, when we had a guest trainer come in to teach lessons for two weeks. And it was great! I gave a brief recap of our first lesson with him (where I was a potato but it was def an educational experience), and I’ll just tell you now that our second lesson went better and also included some great exercises. I am very grateful to have had the chance to ride with him and learn from him and get his perspective on some of the persistent issues I have in the saddle.

But. It really confirmed for me just how much I mesh with Trainer and AT. That may be due at least in part to familiarity (2.5 years of coaching leads to us knowing each other pretty well) and knowing what we expect from each other, but it also gave me an appreciation for how motivated I feel after a lesson with my trainer.

In a nutshell, here’s a few things I really like to have during a lesson:

  • Warm me up. Please don’t tell me to warm myself up and then you’ll jump me around. I want you to critique my flatwork and help develop that. I can WTC around on my own time- give me some harder exercises that I need your help with. I can warm myself up on the flat at shows when we don’t have a full hour, but during lessons I expect full attention for the full hour I’m paying for.
  • Constant feedback. What did I do wrong? What did I do right? Please explain how these things led to my horse doing what he did. How can I change what I’m doing? During my walk breaks, please talk to me about why we’re working on what we’re doing today. As you’re setting jumps, please tell me why they’re placed where they are. I want to suck every teachable moment out of every lesson.
  • Tell me what toΒ  change. If I biff a jump, I know I should go back and do something differently next time. I know what my options are. I can absolutely come up with something myself. But I’d really like your input on what you think the best option is.
  • Give me homework. If we struggled with an exercise, please tell me what I can work on between lessons to develop that skill. Help me be prepared so that we can continue progressing in our next lesson instead of re-treading ground.

What you’re thinking is true: I am a needy girlfriend in client form.

On top of all that, I also like my trainer to have an eye to the future. To believe in me. To suggest ways of stretching and growing and pushing comfort zones. When I say, “do you think someday I could do this?” to respond with, “dream bigger.” Who will help me figure out ways to pursue those big dreams.

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I really like jumping big jumps, but I want to jump them BETTER and then BIGGER

So to recap, I want constant unceasing attention to every detail of my ride as well as an emotional and financial coach.

WOMP WOMP.

But I guess that’s why I have such a love affair with my trainers: because I have found exactly that. My motivation and excitement for the future expands after every ride with either of them. They take that internal fire and stoke it into something even bigger (thank you Emma for that analogy).

So what about you? What do you look for in a trainer, and in a training program?